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5 Emotions That Successful Entrepreneurs Never Feel

5 Emotions That Successful Entrepreneurs Never Feel

When you become a successful entrepreneur, you represent a group of people who create value for the world by seeing solutions where others see nothing. Where back in the old days, people would try and turn lead into gold, modern day entrepreneurs turn 0’s and 1’s into an app that can solve a real problem.

Human emotions can empower. They can also disable. The key to success is sifting out the emotions that give you strength and throwing away the ones that get in the way of progress. Here are the five emotions that successful entrepreneurs become skilled at getting rid of to protect their ability to create value.

1. Jealousy

Entrepreneurs aren’t jealous. They see the success of their colleagues as validation of hard work. The smarter ones will look at what they are specifically doing different that makes them successful – market, product, advertising, etc – and seek to emulate it.

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People who are jealous, actually admit that they will never be as successful as the person they are jealous of. No one will tell you that, but it’s the truth about jealousy. It represents deep insecurity that disables you from performing better and seeking the life that you want.

If you can be genuinely happy for someone who is successful, you can be one step closer at success yourself.

2. Despair

In the dictionary, despair is defined as being “the complete loss or absence of hope”. Entrepreneurs are quintessentially about hope. Without hope, there isn’t possibility. Their ideas would never make it beyond the drawing board.

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This isn’t to say that entrepreneurs don’t lose hope sometimes. They are human, after all. However, entrepreneurs are unable to completely drain their “hope gauge”. No matter what knocks them down, they will always get back up. If not immediately, eventually.

3. Apathy

Apathy basically means not caring at all about something. It means that no matter what happens, whether good nor bad, you have no emotional investment attached to it. This can be a good thing for entrepreneurs. If they don’t care about the result, they can focus on doing meaningful work.

Having said this, entrepreneurs build things to solve problems. Apathy can be a destructive emotion because it can drain the energy and passion away from a venture. People who work with you in the venture may leave, seeing that their fearless leader is more of a “meh” leader.

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Entrepreneurs are caring people. They might not seem that way at face value, but without care, they would not go to great lengths to solve the world’s problems.

4. Disappointment

Disappointment is another very common emotion. People get disappointed all the time: in other people, in situations out of their control, in themselves. As an entrepreneur myself, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel disappointment. In fact, I feel it on a daily basis.

What sets entrepreneurs apart from other people is that entrepreneurs do something with their disappointment. They make it constructive. They turn it into an opportunity for growth. For example, I’ve started a “disappointment journal” where I list the things that disappoint me. What’s been fascinating is realizing these things often aren’t big deals and that I’m silly for wasting energy on it in the first place.

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It’s an emotion that has to be weaned out of the human system. Only then can you be as effective as a successful entrepreneur.

5. Worry

Entrepreneurs have at least double the number of things to worry about, compared to “regular” people. Some entrepreneurs let worries drive them into the ground. The emotionally and physically collapse one day and need to take a couple months off. The weight of worries crushes them.

Other entrepreneurs – ones who are more experienced and durable against the weight of worry – realize that worrying is placing a bet against themselves. There is literally no point worrying. It takes away precious energy that should be focused on value creation. Worrying doesn’t decrease the chance of bad things happening either. So why worry?

If you can purge yourself of these five troublesome emotions, you can quickly be on your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur. It takes effort, but it’s worth it.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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